Sammichele di Bari



Casal San Michele developed around the Centuriona tower, which rose above the surrounding area of Casamassima, Acquaviva delle Fonti, Gioia del Colle and Turi. Probably of Norman origin, after 1504 it passed into the hands of Heronimo Centurione, a Genoese banker in the Bari area. The tower was restored along with the adjacent Church of the Maddalena, which was reopened for worship.

In 1609, Miguel Vaaz of Portugal purchased from the Public Treasury the fiefdom of Casamassima, together with Centurione’s property, with the contractual obligation to build 99 dwellings in the same area. Ten years later the village was named Casale San Michele.

Upon his death Miguel Vaaz was succeeded by his nephew Simone who, because of heavy debts, lost the fiefdom to Antonio De Ponte in 1666. De Ponte was succeeded by his son Giacomo, and the fiefdom remained with the De Ponte family from 1667 to 1794. When Giacomo died in 1779, ownership passed to a niece, Giuseppa, who married Nicola Caracciolo of the Dukes of Vietri, the last real feudal lords.

The tower was by then annexed to Caracciolo Castle, and with the new Bari-Taranto road the population reached 3000. Scattered among the narrow streets of the town are the famous apotropaic masks decorating the keystones over the doors of houses, and other elements represent vines shoots that marked the houses of the vignali (vine dressers).

In 1831 work began on the new church of Santa Maria del Carmine, which was opened on November 26, 1873. It was not until the Unification of Italy that the town was finally given its name of Sammichele of Bari.